Is it Legal to Play in Online Casinos in Canada

Gambling in the Online World: The Legal Landscape in Canada

For many, gambling has always been an exciting pastime, offering a mix of risk, reward, and adrenaline. With the rise of the internet, this activity has taken on a whole new dimension, with a plethora of online casino platforms providing unparalleled gaming experiences. For Canadians, the world of online gambling presents new opportunities, but also raises important questions, such as: Is it legal to play at online casinos in Canada?

The Legality of Online Gambling in Canada: An Overview

The answer to this question is not straightforward. The regulation and legality of online gambling in Canada are complex due to the division of jurisdiction between federal and provincial governments. Additionally, the transition from traditional gambling to digital platforms adds another layer of complexity to the issue, leading to various interpretations and assumptions about the legality of online casinos in Canada.

On a federal level, the Canadian Criminal Code does not consider online gambling to be inherently illegal. In the 1970s, an amendment to the Criminal Code gave provinces the authority to manage and license gambling operations. This means that each province is responsible for determining the specific regulations for gambling within its jurisdiction.

However, two key principles are upheld at a national level: first, it is illegal to operate an online casino within Canada's borders without government authorization; second, it is not illegal for Canadians to participate in online gambling activities offered by offshore casinos.

Provincial Regulations and Jurisdictions

Each of the ten Canadian provinces has its own approach to online gambling, ranging from strict regulations to more lenient policies. For example, provinces like British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec have established their own online casinos to tap into the growing market. These provincially owned platforms offer residents a legal and regulated option for online gambling.

In contrast, provinces like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland & Labrador do not operate provincially regulated online casinos. However, this does not mean that playing at online casinos is illegal for residents of these provinces. Instead, they may turn to offshore online casinos that welcome Canadian players, which is not explicitly prohibited by Canadian law.

The Offshore Casino Landscape

A significant number of Canadians choose to gamble on offshore online casinos, which means that the casino is operated from outside of Canada. These casinos offer a wider variety of games and betting options and often have a larger global user base.

However, there is a caveat. While it is not technically illegal for Canadians to gamble on these offshore platforms, there are potential risks involved. These casinos are not regulated by Canadian law, so player protection may not be as stringent as it is on provincially operated online casinos. That being said, many of these offshore casinos are licensed and regulated in their jurisdiction and adhere to strict international gaming standards. Canadians using offshore platforms should research the casino, paying particular attention to licensing, reputation, and customer feedback before participating in online games.


In conclusion, the answer to whether it is legal to play at online casinos in Canada is, "Yes, but it depends." While the Canadian Criminal Code does not explicitly prohibit online gambling, the specifics are regulated at a provincial level, resulting in varying policies across the country. Aspiring online gamblers should familiarize themselves with the regulations in their province and exercise caution when interacting with offshore online casinos. The future of online gambling in Canada, as well as the rest of the world, is constantly evolving, shaped by technological advancements, changes in legislation, and the dynamic nature of the industry. Regardless, it is the responsibility of individual players to stay informed about the laws and regulations governing online gambling in their respective jurisdictions.